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FEB
23
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"I get the chance to meet people I never would have been able to before"

By Guest Blogger

By Maya Irvine. 

Maya is a freshman at Camdenton High School and was named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador in the fall for the 2017-2018 school year. Maya has attended Camdenton FIRST LASER Robotics program for the past six years. Her blog post highlights the science, mathematics, technology, and engineering (STEM) learning opportunities available through the FIRST program and the experiences she's had as a member of the team.

With more than 460,000 students involved, more than $50 million in scholarship opportunities, and more than 120,000 volunteers worldwide, FIRST Robotics has a global impact on every individual involved.

Newcomers often ask, “Is FIRST Robotics like Battlebots?”

Short answer: nope! The FIRST program is exceedingly more than that. FIRST Robotics is a non-profit organization, with a mission to “inspire young people to be science and technology leaders.” Most FIRST Robotics teams take place in an afterschool setting — along with the 250+ students involved in the LASER Robotics program.

I’ve been involved in the FIRST program for six years, from elementary to high school. It’s my first year on the high school team, and I am already involved in writing the Engineering Notebook (which documents the evolution of our team’s robot through daily entries), working with Safety (a group that protects and enforces the FIRST safety morals), and designing graphics.

FIRST robotics has evolved my interests. Before joining the program, my only outlook for the future was simple: I had no idea what I wanted to do. When FIRST came into my life, I realized that there are so many careers and opportunities for students just like me. What I enjoy most about FIRST is how diverse it is. When our team goes to compete, I get the chance to meet people I never would have been able to before, including teams from all over the world!

Participation in FIRST programs is shown to inspire young people to become leaders and innovators and pursue careers in STEM related fields. Students involved show greater interests in STEM, STEM careers, and 21st century skills. With science- and math-related careers reaching an all-time high demand, the need for people to fill these spots has hit its highest appeal rates.

Through the FIRST program, kids of all ages have the chance to be someone big. The only question is, what will the world look like with these new engineers and inventors unleashed?

FEB
22
2018

STEM
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What the FY19 budget request does, and doesn’t do, for STEM learning

By Stephanie Rodriguez

On February 12, the White House released its FY19 budget request. As expected, it reiterated much of the FY18 request, including deep cuts to and elimination of many discretionary programs. This year’s request was made more confusing due to the congressional budget deal reached just days before the WH FY19 budget request. Because that budget deal included a significant increase to both defense and non-defense budget caps, the administration released a budget addendum, which added back funds to many programs slated for reductions or eliminations before the deal was reached. While this addendum seems to benefit some science sectors, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is still a casualty of the FY19 budget request.

Money talks. Here's what it says.

Not only is the sole dedicated federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning proposed for elimination: the president’s request once again eliminates funding for grant programs in the Every Student Succeeds Act’s Title IV-A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment) and Title II (Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, or Other School Leaders).

Together, these eliminations continue an assault on teaching and the development of well-rounded students. These cuts are particularly harmful to STEM learning, as these funds are often used to recruit and train educators in high-need fields and provide students experiential learning opportunities critical for active STEM engagement. How can we expect to effectively improve STEM and computer science education, which are stated administration priorities, while eliminating investments in teacher training and related support programs?

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learn more about: STEM Computer Science
FEB
16
2018

IN THE FIELD
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From D.C. to Johannesburg, music makes STEM learning sing

By Charlotte Steinecke

“If you’re passionate about anything, there really is no limit to what you can do,” says Lemond Brown, president and CEO of Swaliga Foundation. “That passion is contagious. People want to know ‘Well, why are they so passionate about that? How can I have that same thing?’”

“Swaliga,” meaning “passion,” comes from the island of St. Martin. It’s the watchword for an innovative afterschool program in Washington, D.C., that connects youth with innovative education opportunities by uniting a love of music and arts with science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) learning.

Since opening at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington in 2012, Swaliga Foundation has served more than 6,000 youth worldwide. In the next five years, they’re looking to connect with 1 million young people worldwide – a goal Brown and his team are passionate about.

“Our mission is to become the world’s premiere source for innovative youth education.”

How do you innovate youth education in the age of the iPhone? Swaliga Foundation aims to change the way young people use technology by making technology producers out of technology consumers. They teach the technological skills necessary to effect that transformation by tying them to the interests students already have—their passions for sound-mixing, composing music, shooting videos, and beyond.

FEB
8
2018

IN THE FIELD
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STEM funding opp: Enter the 2018 Possibility Grants sweepstakes

By Charlotte Steinecke

Make your lab a little more fab: enter the Siemens 2018 Possibility Grant Sweepstakes! K-12 schools are eligible to enroll in the sweepstakes and vote daily for their school, from now until the deadline on April 27. Check out the possibilities with the #IDreamofSTEM hashtag.

Grant Name: 2018 Possibility Grant Sweepstakes

Description: $10,000 to spend on STEM technology and resources.

Eligibility requirements: All K-12 schools are eligible to apply. Educators can enter daily. The winner will be chosen through random drawing.

Deadline: 5 p.m. ET on April 27, 2018.

How to apply: You can enter daily for a chance to win – simply enter your school information here, and you’ll be able to vote for your school as often as you’d like! Previous winners are not eligible to enter. See the official rules here.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity STEM
JAN
31
2018

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 31, 2018

By Luci Manning

Community Schools a Way to Improve Education (Commercial Appeal, Tennessee)

Knoxville businessman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd vouches for community schools – like the one he helped launch at Pond Gap Elementary School – as a way to help low-income students overcome disadvantages in an op-ed for the Commercial Appeal: “Over the years of being very actively involved in our public education system, it has become clear to me that not all education solutions can be solved solely within the classroom…. From local churches to Boy Scouts and Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the school becomes the hub for the community and the access point to reach parents and children…. Turning around Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools will require a team effort. Community schools may be one place to start.”

Bridging Gaps, Building Hope (Washington Post, Virginia)

Through a Hutchinson Elementary School afterschool program, immigrant students are forging bonds with local police officers and learning not to fear law enforcement. Project Hope invites Herndon and Fairfax police officers to the school to participate in fun activities with students, like competing in kickball games, playing cards or enjoying ice cream. The afterschool club helps keep students away from gangs and gives parents and community members, many of whom are immigrants from violent countries like El Salvador and Honduras, peace of mind when interacting with law enforcement. “We didn’t want our parents to be fearful when they come into the school,” principal Ray Lonnett told the Washington Post. “So, we’ve really worked to build this partnership to make sure our entire community can feel comfortable with the police.”

Young People: The Single Most Important Investment in Our Future (Garden Island, Hawaii)

Former state Senator Gary Hooser, who currently serves as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action and executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative, makes the case for more county and community investment in youth programs in the Garden Island: “What would be the impact on drug use and abuse among our youth if their choices of after-school and weekend activities included a strong and wide array of programs including theater, art, hula, skateboarding, mountain biking…. Supporting our existing youth programs and expanding them to accommodate the needs and interests of all of our youth, must be a county and a community priority.”

West Hancock Kids Learn Science Can Be Delicious (Britt News Tribune, Iowa)

Hancock County Extension’s After School Kids Club is teaching third- and fourth-graders about the science behind their favorite foods. Recently, students learned about why Pop Rocks pop and sizzle when they put them in their mouths, and in the coming weeks they will explore the science behind treats like rock candy, cheese and ice cream. Third-grader Sophie Aitchison explained what she enjoys most about the program to the Britt News Tribune: “It’s not just like plain science. You get to eat during the lesson.”

JAN
23
2018

STEM
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Call for submissions to afterschool-themed issue of Connected Science Learning

By Leah Silverberg

Connected Science Learning is looking for you to submit to the fall issue highlighting afterschool partnerships! A project of the National Science Teachers Association and the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Connected Science Learning focuses on sharing the effective methods of collaboration and programming between out-of-school and in-school learning Geared toward STEM education professionals, the online, peer-reviewed, journal highlights research, programs, and initiatives connecting preK-12 students with STEM learning opportunities. First published in March of 2016, the journal has had issues focusing on STEM education for early learners, STEM learning ecosystems, and more.

What type of articles are they looking for?

Connected Science Learning publishes original research showing outcomes and impacts of in-school and out-of-school STEM learning partnerships. Submissions go through a double-blind peer-review process and extensive editing with assistance from the Connected Science Learning editorial team. In addition to issue-specific features, articles can be submitted under three categories: “Research to Practice, Practice to Research,” “Emerging Connections,” and “Diversity and Equity.”

JAN
22
2018

STEM
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Stay informed about STEM with the Afterschool STEM Hub newsletter

By Leah Silverberg

Brought to you by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the Afterschool Lab Report is dedicated to continuously providing advocates with the tools they need to make the case for out-of-school time STEM learning. The Afterschool Lab Report is sent each quarter, and includes the latest policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new research in the field. Written by the subject area experts at the Afterschool Alliance, the Afterschool Lab report is your one-stop-shop for STEM education advocacy needs.

Who should subscribe?

Short answer: anyone with an interest in afterschool STEM education! While the tools are geared towards advocacy, our talking points, and communications materials can be used by anyone to effectively make the case about why afterschool STEM learning is important. If you run a program, build local or state systems, conduct research, or design policy, the Afterschool Lab Report has something for you.

October's Lab Report included:

It is not too late to stay informed and sign up to receive the January edition of the Afterschool Lab Report to your inbox! You can also check out the past editions and the rest of the Afterschool STEM Hub website any time online.

DEC
15
2017

STEM
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Wrapping up the 2017 CS Ed Week

By Stephanie Rodriguez

Stephanie Rodriguez and a student at Tubman Elementary participate in the Hour of Code on December 6

Computer Science Education Week (CS Ed Week) 2017 was an exciting time for the Afterschool Alliance and the CS education community at large. The Afterschool Alliance shared key resources for afterschool computer science throughout the week, including:

Here’s a look at a few highlights from the week!

Launch event with corporate partners on December 4

Code.org kicked of CS Ed Week with a launch event that featured female technology powerhouses, including Melinda Gates and Sheryl Sandberg, offering words of wisdom and inspiration for all kids to pursue opportunities in computing. In celebration of the 2017 CS Ed Week, Code.org and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) announced their inaugural Champions for Computer Science. We were thrilled to see that the value of afterschool CS was recognized within the winners of their “organization” category! Alexandra Liggins, co-founder of South Bend Code School, accepted the award, which recognized the great work their out-of-school time program does in bringing computer science learning to students age 7 to 18 across Indiana.

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learn more about: Congress STEM Computer Science